I lied last time. I actually did leave Middlegate for a few moments, just to check how to Location spell works in the overworld. In those few moments outside, something strange happened.
Somewhere between finding the local blacksmith and helping Nordon, we stepped outside the city gates to take a look at our surroundings and get our bearings. Moments after leaving, a winged horse descended from the sky, proclaiming itself our guardian pegasus. The creature made the impression of having something important to say, but its presence was so distracting we instantly forgot anything it said.
Naturally, by the time we decided to set out away from Middlegate, after 20 days of exploring it and the dungeon below, the pegasus was long gone.
I actually caught a reference of the guardian pegasus somewhere else. I’m not sure if it’s in the manual, or if there’s some sort of hint in one of the messages found in the city or the dungeon, but I’m sure I’ve seen a mention of the creature somewhere and it does appear on the title screen. I certainly didn’t expect to find it immediately, though.
Side Note: New Features in Might and Magic Book Two
The auto-mapping feature is by far the biggest new addition in Gates to Another World. Aside from that, though, the game has received an upgrade in many other ways.
The graphics are the most obvious, with the quality now rivaling early SNES games. While there was only one animation I can think off from Book One, everything is animated to a degree in Might and Magic Book Two. The sound is also less system-beepy and more proper sound, but that’s not a huge deal for me.
Each item can now be identified, for a fee, at the blacksmith’s. This gives you all the statistics about the item, availability by class, status, etc. This means I won’t have to guess based on sale price and I won’t have to resort to item tables for anything, hopefully.
I’m not yet sure what the special dishes in the tavern do, but I’m guessing they provide some bonuses.
As for spells, you now only learn some of them automatically. The others, you either learn from quests, or from temples and mage’s guilds, both of which exist in Middlegate. Spells vary in price, based on level and usefulness. With the guilds, you first have to find a mage in the respective town to pay the membership fee. It seems to grow as you progress through towns.
I’ve also encountered a hint about one of the spells in the Middlegate dungeon:
Lloyd, of Lloyd’s Beacon fame was last seen in Corak’s Cave in 7,11
Of course, there are also the skills, which is another new thing in Might and Magic Book Two. There’s the obvious skill of Thievery, which now gives you a proper number when it comes to trap disabling and lock picking. There are also other skills, Cartography being the most important and the cheapest I’ve found. It allows you to actually use the automap, which is crucial.
That being said, I taught each of the skills available in Middlegate to one character, just so I could have it with me.
Compared to the town itself, the area round Middlegate was easy to map and navigate.
To the east, there was a river passing through a lake, or possibly, the river was simply widening here, but the waters flowed so slowly, it might as well have been a lake.
A random traveler we encountered on the eastern bank of the river, south of the lake, taught us the local version of the Walk on Water spell, which was a fortunate event, since the incantations we used in Varn did not work here for some reason.
To the northeast, there were ruins of a castle, but there was no deep dungeon below – just a bunch of stones and rubble.
Middlegate was founded on a large crossroad, with two roads leading north, one each to the east and west and one road leading south. Since we have no proper knowledge of this world yet, we simply took note of these roads, but remained in the area, where we were already getting familiar with the geography.
To the west of Middlegate, there was a lot of orc activity surrounding a magical fountain. We slayed a fair number of them, but they are somehow able to replenish their ranks.
To the northwest, there was the Cave of Corak, which we already heard of from our exploration of the Middlegate dungeons. This is where the famous sage was laid to rest. We wanted to pay our respects, but we weren’t allowed entry to his crypt without an Admit 8 Pass, whatever that is.
The cave was simple to map, or at least the accessible area was. There was a large room marked as Zombie Sanctuary, two rooms marked as Sarcophagus Storage, several tiny unmarked rooms and the large area to the south labeled as Crypt of Corak.
The location of Lloyd from the message we found was in an inaccessible area, so we either need to find a switch, or we need the Teleport spell.
The two Sarcophagus Storage rooms each reavealed a secret passage. One led to an encounter, while the other led to a message:
Holy Word -H. Gibson — Look south on a tree, in Lost Soul’s Woods it will be.
It seems cryptic at first, but it was made much simpler once I found the correct area in the region north of Middlegate. This is a note telling me where to learn the high level Holy Word spell.
The cave contained a lot of minor undead, but none of it was any trouble for me and my Turn Undead spell.
The Area West of Middlegate
Further west of Middlegate, the lush vegetation soon began to give way to massive snowfield. The climate certainly shifts rapidly in Cron, possibly due to the elemental roots of the world.
At the edge of the fields, large numbers of orcs gathered north of the main road. They numbered hundreds, so we navigated around them, promising to ourselves to return later.
To the south of the road, there were remains of a circus site, as well a gathering of merchant caravans. The merchants seemed untrusting, so we decided to leave them to their own.
The snowy desert was difficult to navigate, with blizzards constantly impeding our progress and forcing us to turn back, but we persisted, determine to map every inch of the area. In the end, our troubles paid off.
Perhaps it was the work of some wizard with a sense of humor, some adventurer’s stash or a relic of some forgotten battle, but we found a sickle buried in a snow mound. It looked ordinary at first, but when we returned to warmer areas, we noticed the coldness of its steal remained, perhaps even growing stronger.
This was me actually exploring the overworld region directly west of the region containing Middlegate. The Location spell doesn’t provide region coordinates in this game, so I guess I’ll have to figure them out on my own, eventually. As for as I can tell, the column containing Middlegate is C at minimum, possibly even D. It’s also 2 at minimum, since there’s at least one area to the north.
When I say that orcs gathered in large numbers, I really mean large numbers. I tried to attack the group, but it starts out at about 250 of them. Once I dropped them down to below 100 for the first time, another 60 or so appeared. I managed to get them down to around 80 again, but at that point, I was out of spell points and health, so I was forced to reload.
As for the merchants, this is also a fixed encounter, again against hundreds of them. This is peculiarity with Might and Magic Book 2 – you very often fight enemies which aren’t your typical CRPG villains – merchants, hermits, mad peasants, etc. I guess Gates to Another World does not take itself too seriously.
The snow desert was a pain to navigate. At random, the game simply decided to throw you back on the road, so you are forced to constantly retrace your steps. I wanted to quit a few times, but eventually it paid off and I got the Ice Scythe + 2. It was a good upgrade, doing more damage than the weapon I had and adding cold resistance to the wielder, so I took it with me and gave it to Lorelei. Soon after that, a Blazing Sword dropped, which went to Rax, since it was a one-handed weapons.
Overall, Might and Magic Book One is extremely generous with items.
The Area North of Middlegate
Now familiar with the general area and unable to advance further west, we decided to take the western of the two roads leading north from Middlegate. It lead to Castle Woodhaven, to which we were denied entry due to not having some sort of key. Did they lock themselves into their own castle or something?
The road forked slightly south of the castle, with one branch leading west again, taking us into a more northern part of the snowfields. We spent some time trying to explore it again, but became weary of this and decided to return to Middlegate. Perhaps there is a magical protection spell or an artifact to allow us to explore this region more easily in the future. For now, it will have to wait.
Before returning, we opted for one final trek through the snow and it paid off. We found a castle, belonging to Lord Haart. He asked us for a favor:
Two of my ancestors held items of legend which brought great honor to the House of Haart. In the seventh century, Spaz Twit owned a phaser. In the eight century, a man known simply as The Long One owned a ceremonial loincloth. Return these items to me and you shall be rewarded.
We promised to do what we can, but he didn’t give us much to go by. We are adventurers, not historians. Informing us about the historic origin of an artefact in no way helps us.
At this point, I decided I need something like the Desert Map from Might and Magic Book One to navigate the snowfields properly. It’s too much of a pain to do it any other way. If nothing else, it will get easier once I have Teleport and Etherealize.
It wasn’t all for nothing, though. During all of this exploration, I found a bunch of fountains and for now, none of them were poisonous. One of them increased the levels of the party and there was one for might, accuracy, spell points and spell levels. They are also close enough to each other to make it viable to use them all at once, so I might do just that to beat those orcs that gave me trouble. First, though, I want to relearn fireball, or something like that.
The Lost Soul’s Woods
The other road north from Middlegate took as through a forest, before it bended eastwards. Not in the habit of just passing by, we decided to venture inside. Alana was the first to notice an uneasy sensation falling over the entire party, followed moments later by a heavy sense of dread. The forest was cursed! With two holy women in our party, this could not be allowed. We would have to lift the curse, somehow.
Within moments, the forest sensed our intention and soon wave after wave of assaults by the undead was upon us. It seemed endless, but progress, however slow, was being made. With each step, we knew more of our surroundings and felt surer of our success.
It wasn’t easy, though. At one point, we were at the edge of death, running through the densely grown trees, pushing away branches. We would have been lost, having not stumbled upon the King’s Road, leading to castle Woodhaven. Later on, Alana claimed this was divine intervention, because we could not find a passage into the Lost Soul’s Woods from the western side ever again.
Eventually, we pushed through and found the source of the plague – a set of runes carved in to a tree in the deepest part of the woods. Reading it pushed knowledge into our minds, teaching us the Holy Word spell.
The forest wasn’t cursed after all. The existence of this divine spell and the hate the undead hold for anything good and living was what brought them there. Our choice was simple – destroy the runes, withholding a powerful tool from any future force of good, or keep it there, together with the infestation.
We opted for the latter. The undead will always exist somewhere. At least this way, they will be contained to this area, instead of roaming freely. The foe you know is better than the foe you don’t.
The Lost Soul’s Woods is an area of dense forest north of Middlegate, following the river leading north from Middlegate’s lake. It’s hinted at by a message in the Cave of Corak and it contains the ninth level Holy Symbol spell. The game actually indicates that we have it learned now, but we naturally can’t use it, other than only temporarily, upon using the spell level fountain nearby.
There were two issues with the Lost Soul’s Woods. Firstly, some of the undead are immune to physical damage and constantly casting Location and Eagle Eye drains Aleen’s spell points, so we had to run away several times. Secondly, running away puts us on the road towards Woodhaven castle, unable to go back to the woods without leaving the area and coming back via the other road from the southern side. This means the monsters reset, so you actually have to do it all in one attempt.
Of course, the biggest issue was for me to figure out how to put it all into a story, which shows. I’m not that great of a writer.
Searching for the Next Town
We’ve grown tired of our surroundings, so we decided to try and follow one of the roads and hopefully find the nearest town. To condense days of travel into a few words, this worked poorly.
A few of the roads took us to far too dangerous areas for our party. One of them led us to a hostile lord’s castle stopping us from passing through a canyon. Finally, the road leading south from the Middlegate area, though long, reaching the outer regions of Cron, eventually led us to the town of Sandsobar.
I actually followed some of the roads quite far and did find Sandsobar on foot, but there was to much terrain to cover between Middlegate and there, so I decided to use the portal from that point on instead, explore the city and then move on, returning to the wilderness at a later time.
There really was a castle owned by a hostile lord. Approaching it get’s you into combat with the lord, which I decided not to do yet. I also tried going towards Volcania (I think), but after two regions, all I got was goblin ambushes, so I gave up.
We were getting accustomed to the wonders of Corn, it seems, because Sandsobar was explored much faster than Middlegate. Once the local inn, tavern and temple were found, we were able to relax and take riskier moves, which made the progress of exploration even faster.
Sandsobar offers the usual services, as well as some tutoring in skills of the subtler nature, such as Diplomacy, Pickpocketing and Gambling. We are always eager to expand our knowledge, so there was a volounteer foor each of these areas of expertise.
As with Middlegate, the local Arena, called Monster Bowl, would not accept as as competitors, demanding some sort of ticket first.
The Temple and the Mage’s Guild offered us new spells, which we eagerly learned, making our repertoar of lower level spells almost complete. What we didn’t expect was that one more, extremely useful spell would be added to our list soon.
Behind the Mage’s Guild, there was a completely ordinary house. We entered it and saw a peculiar room in the back. It seemd like a simple food storage room, but Robin, with her trained eye, saw movement through the rack under the door. She knocked and a strange old man answered, offering to teach us the Wizard’s Eye spell for a complete bargain. We immediately accepted!
With the Eagle and Wizard’s Eye at our disposal, no dungeon will give us navigational issues.
Eagle Eye activates your minimap in outdoor areas, making it easier and less confusing to move around. In non-outdoor areas, such as towns and caves, you need the slightly higher level Wizard Eye spell. I have both of these now!
Within a couple of days, Sandsibar was fully explored. Encouranged by how well things have gone here, we decided to take the other portal in Sandsibar, taking us to the town of Tundara.
Tundara was a cold and dreary place, terrorized by a vicious beast. The stories of the snowbeast reached even Sandsobar, to the other side of the world, though to be fair, when you have acces to portal travel, geographic distances are not a serious issue.
Apparently, the beast has a lair somewhere within the city walls.
The issue here is, while we would probably be able to defeat the beast, the mages of Tundara have set up traps and anti-magic fields in the outher walls, severly ihibiting our ability to fight. Sadly, defeating the snowbeast in such circumstances is beyond our skills right now.
We spent a few days in Tundara, trying to help how we can, but after a while, we decided to move on.
Tundara has the usual services and offers tutoring in Crusader, Haggling and Navigator. The Mage’s Guild teaches a fifth level spell, which is a first in the towns I’ve been to up to now.
To the south, there a long line of small rooms with frozen monsters inside, which you can kill for easy loot and experience. The outher wall is in an anti-magic field and has difficult encounters, so I’m unable to get through it yet. I think I’ll visit one of the other two towns next.
Side Note: Party Progress
As I said in my first article, the transfer made all of my characters start at level 7. Since the game started, I’ve advanced two levels on all of them and got a lot of gear, truly too numerous to count. Instead, I’ll list the character’s gear right now and then mention upgrades as I get them. Here we go…
Lorelei, the Knight, Level 9
- Plate Mail +2
- Iron Helm +1
- Quiet Sling +2
- Magic Charm
- Ice Sickle + 2
- Hero Medal +2
Priscilla, the Paladin, Level 9
- Iron Helm +1
- Voltage Bow +1
- Plate Armor +2
- Hero Medal
- Flamberge +2
Rax, the Robber, Level 9
- Large Shield + 2
- Crossbow +2
- Silent Horn +1
- Thief’s Pick +2
- Ice Scale Mail +3
- Blazing Axe +4
Robin, the Archer, Level 9
- Ray Gun
- Great Bow +1
- Chain Mail +4
- War Hammer +2
Alana, the Cleric, Level 9
- Great Shield +1
- Hero Medal
- Iron Helm +1
- Quick Flail +2
- Scale Armor +3
Aleen, the Sorceror, Level 9
- Padded Armor
- Magic Charm +3
- Dagger +4
Most of the items are actually not that powerful, but it’s still an impressive collection so early in the game. Might and Magic Book Two seems to be as generous with item drops as it is with the size of the monster groups it throws at you. Basically, I’m at Might and Magic Book One levels of defensive gear and very close in levels of offensive gear already.
From what I hear, though, gear is what I should focus on and not levels, because the game has some sort of annoying level scaling mechanic related to group sizes or something.